Slowly but surely I have been working through a book by Kevin Vanhoozer called Biblical Authority after Babel. The book is essentially a defense of the Protestant Reformation that centers on “the Five Solas.”
As the book deals with the principle of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) Vanhoozer argues that the Reformation did not create a bunch of individual Bible interpreters out of every Protestant Christian. In other words, just because the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church do not dictate the meaning of Scripture to us, that does not mean that we are left to come up with our own individual interpretations, like so many subjective, spiritual guesses.
At one point, (p. 128) he refers to the regula **fidei (sorry for all the Latin), which is an ancient “Rule of Faith”. He writes that the purpose of this rule was, “…to encourage canon-conscious and Christ-centered reading.” That. That is how read that Book. We read our Bible, conscious of what the rest of the Bible says, while concentrating on Christ as the ultimate meaning of all and every passage of Scripture.
Whenever you pick up the Word of God, you are not just looking at whatever page you’ve turned to in your daily reading. In a way, you are looking at one, whole book, though you clearly are not reading it all at that one time. The context of the whole canon of Scripture - the storyline of the whole Bible - shines light on what you are reading at that particular point. This is why when you read, for instance, that God’s presence dwelt in the Tabernacle in the wilderness, you don’t assume that He still dwells there, or that we need to erect a holy Tent somewhere in order to worship Him. You know from the rest of Scripture that the Tabernacle was a temporary structure and element in the Biblical narrative.
You also know that the Tabernacle pointed to something - to Someone - else, namely Jesus. Jesus interpreted the Old Testament as a book about Himself (John 5:39; Luke 24:27). We now have His Spirit indwelling us and pointing us to Him in those same Scriptures, along with New Testament books as well. We read the Word of God with an eye toward the Son of God. We know that somehow, in some way, what we read is connected to and clarified by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
When you read that Book, you are not left alone to figure out its meaning. You are not licensed to assign to it any meaning you think it may have. “What this passage means to me…” is not really a valid way to begin your interpretation of Scripture.
While we may differ here and there about interpretations of certain passages and verses, we should not disagree at how we arrive at those interpretations. Canon-concious, Christ-centered reading helps to keep us from wandering off into speculations. It helps us all, along with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, to stay on at least the same road, if not always in the same lane.
Now, brothers and sisters, pick up that Book and read it.